The South African Institute for Race Relations, on the 22nd of March 2016, released a press statement pertaining to the armed robbery of the Helen Suzman Foundation. The press statement can be read here.
While it is not completely concrete, it is completely reasonable to attribute the raid to a rogue state security branch. The attack on the foundation was orchestrated to target only the HSF, ignoring other businessmen in the vicinity. This comes after the HSF’s attempts to “to interdict the head of the Hawks‚ Major-General Berning Ntlemeza‚ from exercising his powers” says the HSF statement.
It is clear that the attack was a politically-inspired attack on a civil society group aiming at holding our government accountable. The raid is apartheid-inspired and exactly the actions of an authoritarian regime desperately grasping for power. As the ruling party crumbles, rogue units are seeking to maintain their authority, and silence opposition.
Individuals, such as the head of the Hawks, do not want to be thrown off the sinking ship and left to the sharks and will do whatever it takes to maintain their position – even raid the HSF.
The attacks on the HSF are a watershed moment where the rogue units of the state have finally and blatantly declared war on civil society. It no longer wants to tolerate any dissidents. For this very reason, civil society needs to be stronger and more united in its investigations of the state and its exercising of its democratic right to force checks and balances.
If the raid was conducted by the Hawks, or arbitrated by the Hawks in anyway, it is suffice to say that we can no longer rely on law enforcement in South Africa. We are fast approaching the time where business and civil society must say “enough is enough” and refuse to keep playing this petty game.
What people in South Africa need is a rallying call to tell our corrupt government and its rogue forces that we aren’t willing to work with them anymore. We already rely on private security for our defence. The rogue status of the Hawks, as one of our highest bodies of law enforcement, is just the final nail in the coffin of public law enforcement. We don’t need them anymore, especially if they are not only going to be failing to enforce the law, but commit crimes themselves.
Frans Cronje, CEO of the IRR, made this statement about the attacks:
“Helen Suzman started her career at the IRR and worked closely with the organisation throughout her life. Today, inspired by her brave example, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Foundation, its staff, and its trustees in sending a clear message that efforts at intimidation will not succeed in derailing the work of South Africa’s liberal pro-democracy groups.”
He is perfectly right. Attacks on civil society may be scary, and it may stop many from taking a stand, but we must not let it. The fact that these groups are forming is an indication that the state is not only crumbling into disunited groups, but that it is desperately grasping for legitimacy. This is a time for those with a decent vision of the future to stand up and make their voices heard.
The days ahead, with the Guptas, Zuma and this attack, will be dark and hard – but we may finally be seeing the end days of complacency, and the very real collapse of the corrupt ANC.